Zimbabwe: Witchcraft Case - or A peek into America's future?

Postby RaharuAharu » Fri Jun 05, 2009 3:48 pm

Really? What the crap.


Harare — THE case of the Murehwa woman who claimed she "flew naked in a winnowing basket" from Murehwa on a mission to kill a relative in Highfield through witchcraft ended in the Harare Magistrates' Courts yesterday with little of the melodrama that characterised its beginning last week.

Magistrate Mr Mishrod Guvamombe sentenced Regina Sveto (21) to a wholly suspended one-year sentence, and ordered her to seek help to recover from the spell apparently cast on her by her father-in-law.

When the trial opened, Mr Guvamombe sought expert advice from the Zimbabwe National Healers' Association as well as Chief Jonathan Mangwende's opinion on the allegations levelled against Sveto.

After listening to the chief's plea for leniency, Mr Guvamombe gave Sveto a wholly suspended one-year prison sentence.

Sveto was found naked outside her brother-in-law's house in Highfield early on Sunday morning last week. She claimed she had been hired by her father-in-law to kill her brother-in-law.

Mr Guvamombe said the court had, in mitigation, taken note of Sveto's age and the fact that she was a first offender who had not wasted the court's time and had shown remorse.

Sveto also has a young child.

"Judging from the evidence given to this court, the accused is also a victim who was being used by a relative," said Mr Guvamombe. "A custodial sentence will, therefore, result in a miscarriage of justice. Community service will expose the accused to ridicule from the public, while a fine will trivialise the crime.

"A wholly suspended prison term will bring justice in this case. In arriving at this sentence, I have also taken into account the stigma that, in my view, is additional punishment for the accused.

"I, therefore, give you 12 months' imprisonment wholly suspended for five years on condition that you will not commit a similar offence of which you will be committed to prison without trial," he said.

Mr Guvamombe urged Sveto's family and relatives to help her reintegrate into society.

Chief Mangwende said since Sveto had pleaded guilty, she would be brought to the Chief's Court where, as in such cases, she would be ordered to pay the fine of a cow.

"As chief, and not a wizard, I don't know what should be done to appease the accused, but I recommend that she be helped. Someone who is going to appease her must inform me first and should do it on the open. We are supposed to see and understand the cleansing process," he said.

Chief Mangwende said he could not recommend anyone to cleanse her, but the accused had to find her own appeaser.

"It is upon the individual to seek an appeaser of her own. But if she is released by the court, everyone must appreciate it and help in the integration," he said.

Sveto's husband, Mr Collin Zemba, and his cousin, Mr Tobias Zemba, the apparent target of Sveto's mission, pleaded the with court to be lenient with her, as they intended to do everything in their power to assist in the appeasement of the evil spirits.

The case attracted a lot of interest from the public who filled the courtroom to hear the proceedings and take a glimpse of the woman.

During sentencing, Sveto went into a trance again while in the dock.

She regained her composure after guards rubbed salt on her face and hands.

Asked by the magistrate what she could ask from her chief and the court, Sveto said: "When the court has pardoned me, are there any measures I could take against my father-in-law for the humiliation he has caused me in society, considering my age?"

Prosecutor Austin Muzive had urged the court to impose a non-custodial sentence.

Sveto claimed to have travelled "supernaturally" in a winnowing basket (rusero) from a Murehwa village to kill her brother-in-law but was caught at a Highfield house, leading to her arrest.

She said she was under the instruction of her father-in-law to bewitch Mr Tobias Zemba.
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Re: Zimbabwe: Witchcraft Case - or A peek into America's future?

Postby Coda » Fri Jun 05, 2009 4:17 pm

In the US, the witchcraft would have been largely ignored by the court (although the media would seize upon it); the only charge I can see would be conspiracy to commit murder, MAYBE attempted murder (depending on just how far she got), and the case would not have been resolved until the conspirator was brought to trial -- the defense would obviously be operating either under a plea of insanity or innocent by reason of coercion.
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